Just saw this movie. I really enjoyed the adventure, action, and suspense throughout it, and would recommend watching it in the theaters. After I saw the movie, I looked up reviews on it and agree with many others that Smaug was an awesome dragon to experience. Also, I like that it helps build up to the story told in Lord of the Rings and branches beyond the fun tale that I remember reading as a child.
Normally I don’t write about my thoughts after a movie, but for some strange reason, I feel like I have to after this one.
Smaug and great action/adventure don’t make a great story or trilogy. I was more touched by the relationship between Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck in Armageddon than any pair of characters so far in The Hobbit, maybe with the exception of Bilbo and Gollum in the first Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movie trilogy is a masterpiece: it explored the a number of characters, pairs of characters, triples, etc. and their development together (of course way better than Armageddon). Action and adventure are great, but with just those two, I feel empty without character development. I’m surprised so many reviews focus on the adventure and action as opposed to character development, especially since it is natural to compare The Hobbit to LOTR. I also don’t agree that this sequel is such a ‘leap’ above the first movie. To me, they’re both about the same when it comes to what matters: the story.
As it stands, the series so far is ‘good’. It could have been ‘great’ by exploring a few characters in more depth (Thorin in particular). Since The Hobbit is such a short book, the creators of this movie series have a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of these characters by expanding a short book into three movies. They certainly have in many respects, but I argue that they should have focused on character development more. I don’t mind a few poorly done special effects if what results is a better story with characters that I can relate to.